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Recent Publications

“Three Ways to Reduce Heart Disease Deaths Globally”

Jun 23, 2019

Heart disease is a term used to refer to several diseases of the heart and circulatory system, including coronary artery disease, heart arrhythmias, heart attack, angina and heart failure. Coronary heart disease (CHD) is a narrowing of the small blood vessels that supply blood and oxygen to the heart. CHD is also called coronary artery disease. So, don’t let the terms confuse you. Just remember that none of them are good. Patients can even have “silent heart disease.” New research from Harvard suggests that three tried and tested interventions could prevent many of those deaths if implemented through global policies. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 17.9 million deaths worldwide each year are due to cardiovascular disease, accounting for an estimated 31% of yearly global deaths. In a new study, researchers from the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, MA, have pinpointed three well-known, verified interventions that have the potential to prevent a significant number of such premature deaths. The three public health interventions combined could help extend the lives of 94 million people over 25 years, from 2015 through to 2040. But, policymakers across the world have to commit to implementing the recommended measures. The researchers used data on mean blood pressure levels, as well as sodium (salt), and trans-fat consumption in populations from different countries. Three “well-known interventions,” namely: lowering blood pressure, reducing sodium intake, and eliminating trans-fat from one’s diet could have an important beneficial effect in terms of preventing millions of premature, cardiovascular event-related deaths worldwide. Boosting the reach of treatments for high blood pressure to 70% of the world’s population could save an estimated 39.4 million people.

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“Popular Heartburn Drugs Again Tied To Fatalities”

Jun 16, 2019

They rank among the top-selling medications in the US. Heartburn drugs are called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) and are sold under the brand names Prevacid, Prilosec, Nexium, and Protonix, among others. Over 15 million Americans suffering from heartburn, ulcers, and acid reflux have prescriptions for PPIs, which bring relief by reducing gastric acid. PPIs, used for the treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease and peptic ulcers, work by reduction of stomach acid production. PPIs work by blocking the enzyme system that creates stomach acid. They are commonly prescribed for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), where stomach acid chronically escapes into the esophagus (the tube connecting the mouth and stomach). A new study suggests people who use common heartburn drugs for months to years may face heightened risks of dying from heart disease, kidney failure or stomach cancer. The study included more than 200,000 US veterans. It’s the latest to raise concerns over drugs called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). Research in recent years has linked prolonged PPI use to increased risks of various diseases and premature death. These latest findings point to the specific causes of death tied to the drugs. However, the excess risks were relatively small. When the researchers weighed other factors—such as patients’ age and chronic health conditions—PPI use was tied to a roughly 18% higher risk of cardiovascular death.

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“Sleep Adequacy is Key”

Jun 09, 2019

According to the National Sleep Foundation, many as one-third of Americans still don’t get enough sleep. A lot of people still believe a lot of common myths when it comes to getting shuteye. An estimated 50% of Americans watch television 30 minutes before going to bed. But this pre-sleep arousal has been shown to lead to sleep difficulties. We sleep for 1/3 of our lifetimes or about 24.9 years. All mammals and birds sleep. Insects appear to sleep, too. And, people who cannot sleep, die. Rats die after about 17 days of total sleep deprivation. Insomnia or sleep deprivation may be a risk factor for cancer, arteriosclerosis, diabetes, arthritis, and cataracts. Insufficient sleep has been linked to a wide variety of health problems, including pain, heart disease, and cancer. According to a 2007 British study, people who do not get enough sleep are more than twice as likely to die of heart disease. Getting less than seven hours of sleep increases the risk of weight gain and less than six hours leads to unclear thinking. People who have sleep apnea are at higher risk for motor vehicle accidents. Night-shift workers—who typically get less sleep and have lower sleep quality than day workers—are at higher risk for depression, diabetes, breast cancer, and all-cause mortality. Instead of getting more sleep, older adults actually tend to sleep less, in part due to health conditions. Habitual insufficient sleep can lead to metabolic, mental health, and immunological health consequences.

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“Cancer Causes 33% of Canadian Deaths”

Jun 02, 2019

Canadians continue to smoke, drink, and eat their way towards a diagnosis of cancer, even though public health agencies alert people of ways to prevent up to 40,000 new cases of cancer per year. Cancer is now the leading cause of death in Canada, responsible for 1 in 3 deaths in 2017. Findings from the Canadian Population Attributable Risk of Cancer (ComPARe) study showed that in 2015, more than one-third of cancers were caused by “largely preventable” lifestyle, environmental, and infectious agent risk factors. If this trend continues, the annual number of cases of preventable cancer in Canada is projected to almost double by 2046. Cancer expert, Salaheddin M. Mahmud, MD, PhD, said, “While it is true that much progress is needed to find better treatments for cancer, studies such as that conducted by the ComPARe consortium show unequivocally that there is much that can be done to prevent cancer.” Studies show that 33% can be attributed to one or more modifiable risk factors. There were no significant differences between men and women. The most common preventable cancers were those of the cervix, lung, and head and neck. Smoking tobacco remains the highest of cancer risk factors, responsible for more than 18% of all cancers diagnosed in 2015. The researchers estimate that more than 11,000 cancers could be prevented each year if people would stop smoking. However, the results also show that the combination of physical inactivity, a sedentary lifestyle, and excess weight accounted for an additional 12% of cancer cases. Other leading modifiable cancer risk factors include alcohol consumption and human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. Similarly, more than 6000 cancers could be avoided by maintaining a healthy weight.

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“Is America One of the Unhealthiest Countries ?”

May 26, 2019

The World Health Organization (WHO) is used to focus attention on global health. This year, the WHO’s focus will be universal health coverage, so everyone can get the health care they need. Here is how America shapes up against the other countries of the world, as well as the factors that influenced these standings. Spain is the healthiest country in the world, and the Czech Republic, the unhealthiest. The vastly different lifestyle choices of individuals in each of these countries seem to be the deciding factors in good health vs poor health. Each year, experts at the Bloomberg Global Health Index rank 169 countries throughout the world from healthiest to unhealthiest. These rankings are based on considerations including health risks (tobacco use, high blood pressure, and obesity), availability of clean water, life expectancy, malnutrition, and causes of death. Each country is ranked accordingly, with a maximum top score of 100. Bloomberg’s top 10 Healthiest Countries in the World list for 2019 is as follows, in order of healthiest: 1. Spain, 2. Italy, 3. Iceland, 4. Japan, 5. Switzerland, 6. Sweden, 7. Australia, 8. Singapore, 9. Norway and 10. Israel. For 2019, Spain beat out last year’s winner—Italy—as the world’s healthiest country. Spain was the healthiest country in the world, with a projected life expectancy of 85.8 years by 2040, (in The Lancet study the United States ranked 64th). European nations comprised most of these healthiest nations, in sharp contrast to the United States, which came in at a dismal #35 on Bloomberg’s list, one place lower even than it ranked in last year’s index.

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“So-Called ‘Healthy Snacks’ Require Caution”

May 19, 2019

Some snacks may appear “healthy,” but they actually may not be. Even though ingredients and calories are listed on nutrition labels, many people don’t take the time to look. In fact, nearly 50% of US adults reported that they “sometimes,” “rarely,” or “never” read nutrition labels. Yogurt: Flavored yogurt can contain 15-plus grams of sugar per serving and thus, a higher caloric profile. These extra calories make flavored yogurt—despite its pleasant taste—a bad snack choice. Trail Mix: Many brands of trail mix include less-than-healthy ingredients, such as M&Ms or chocolate chips. Furthermore, many types of trail mix use salted nuts rather than unsalted nuts, which can raise your blood pressure level. Rice Cakes: Flavored rice cakes, however, are dusted with salt and sugar. If you have to choose between plain rice cakes and flavored ones, go plain. But people with diabetes beware: Rice cakes of any sort can spike blood sugar levels because they are made of highly refined carbohydrates.  Pretzels: Pretzels are usually made from refined carbohydrates with little nutritional value. As a snack, pretzels won’t sustain you. Instead, they’ll give you a quick sugar high. Fruit cocktail in syrup: Fruit cocktail consisting of bits of pears, grapes, cherries, peaches, and pineapples coated in heavy syrup makes for a bad snack. The syrup adds 10 grams of sugar per serving, which translates to an additional 40 calories.

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“How To Live Past One Hundred”

May 12, 2019

The notion of living past 100 years of age may be a difficult stretch for some, but to others, it seems highly desirable. Granted, an elderly person who is basically healthy may have a much stronger desire to live past 100 than a younger person who is suffering from the inevitability of aging. Anyway, a positive mindset plays an important role in exceptional longevity. Worldwide the global population is aging at a historic rate. The number of nonagenarians (people in their 90s) rose from 7.8 million to 16.5 million between 2000 and 2015. The number of centenarians (people age 100 and older) is expected to jump from 180,000 in 2000 to 3.2 million by 2050. According to a study published in International Psychogeriatrics, in nonagenarians and centenarians, exceptional longevity is characterized by positive psychological traits and mindset, hard work, and strong bonds with family, faith, and land. This study was conducted in Cilento, a city in southern Italy, which is the “Birthplace of the Mediterranean diet.”

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“Foods to Enhance Brain Power”

Apr 21, 2019

Over five million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease (AD) or some other form of dementia and one in three seniors dies with (not necessarily from) Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia.  Although you cannot buy a bottle of “brain food,’ you can choose foods known to improve cognition and improve brain function.  Many false claims have been rampant with articles pushing the notion that this can be achieved with coffee, cocoa, water, antioxidants, etc.  But, please do not accept a flamboyant, so-called medical headline.  Still, some experts believe food is a very effective and underutilized intervention in mental health.  Get patients off of processed foods, off of white carbohydrates, and off of certain vegetable oils.  Diet seems to be as important to psychiatry as it is to cardiology, endocrinology, and gastroenterology.  Leafy greens such as kale, spinach, collards, and broccoli are rich in important nutrients—including vitamin K, lutein, folate, and beta carotene—that keep the brain healthy and are linked to slower cognitive decline.  Fatty fish—like salmon, mackerel, herring, lake trout, sardines, and albacore tuna—are an abundant source of omega-3 fatty acids, particularly docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), a key to brain maintenance.

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“Unhealthy Diets Linked to 20% of Deaths Worldwide”

Apr 14, 2019

In 2017, eleven million deaths worldwide in 2017 were linked to people eating poor diets high in sugar, salt, and processed meat that contributed to heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.  Of the 11 million in 2017, almost 10 million were from cardiovascular diseases, around 913,000 from cancer, and almost 339,000 from type 2 diabetes.  Researchers found that among 195 countries studied, the proportion of diet-related deaths was highest in Uzbekistan and lowest in Israel.  The United States ranked 43rd, while Britain was 23rd, China 140th and India 118th.  Consumption of healthier foods such as nuts and seeds, milk, and whole grains was on average too low, and people consumed too many sugary drinks and too much processed meat and salt.  Experts say this affirms what many have thought for several years.  Chris Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, said, “Poor diet is responsible for more deaths than any other risk factor in the world.

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“Exercise to Increase Lifespan and Brain Function”

Apr 07, 2019

Repeatedly, we find that exercise has a wide array of health benefits. Exercise has been shown to decrease the risk of most major diseases, such as cancer, heart disease, strokes, obesity and diabetes. Among the many health benefits that aerobics brings, some notable ones are weight loss, boosting cardiovascular health, reducing anxiety, and regulating moods. Aerobic exercise is a type of workout that increases the heartbeat and stimulates it to pump more oxygen through the body. Please refer to my book on entitled, Exercise & Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS): Likely the Only Health Miracle Out There. It gives extensive supportive evidence to the health benefits of exercise, with increased oxygen consumption. A 2019 study found that people with elite-performance cardiorespiratory fitness had an 80% lower mortality risk compared with people with low cardiorespiratory fitness. Any incremental increase in cardiorespiratory function resulted in improvement to mortality. The survival benefit was most notable in patients older than age 70. In this age group, elite performers had a nearly 30% reduced risk of mortality compared with high performers. Cardiorespiratory fitness is a modifiable indicator of long-term mortality, and health care professionals should encourage patients to achieve and maintain high levels of fitness. Now, researchers are finding that brain changes that occur after a single workout are predictive of what happens with sustained physical training over time.

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